Grant Achatz from The 60 (Plus) Coolest People in Food and Drink Slideshow

The 60 (Plus) Coolest People in Food and Drink Slideshow

Photo Modified: Flickr / John / CC BY-SA 4.0

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Grant Achatz

Grant Achatz's culinary pedigree includes training with Thomas Keller, Ferran Adrià, and the late Charlie Trotter. After basically being told by Trotter that he was persona non grata, he returned to Chicago and took over the city, first with Trio (making a suburb a must-visit destination for anybody serious about dining), and then with Alinea, where course after dazzling, perception-challenging course forged a distinctly American identity for what nobody really ought to call "molecular gastronomy." With his second restaurant, Next, Achatz and his business partner, Nick Kokonas, invented something new: a restaurant that changes not just menus but whole concepts every few months — and, incidentally, redefined the way restaurants think about reservations. Then there's Aviary, one of the most original cocktail bars in America, cooler than the crystal-globe-like ice forms that enclose some of the offerings (yes, the drinks are in the ice, not vice versa). This year, Achatz and company closed Alinea — named the 2016 James Beard Outstanding Restaurant ("a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service") — for refurbishing and bought his late friend Homaro Cantu's Moto, using the space for pop-ups until the flagship place reopens. (Future plans for the space haven't yet been announced.) The Alinea Group also opened a comparatively casual place called Roister, where the fare includes scallop crudo with mustard, passion fruit, charred daikon, and a whole chicken with chamomile, braised, poached, and fried with sunchokes. One cool move after another.